Painting Lesson Learned

14 Replies

I recently purchased my first buy and hold investment. The house was in pretty decent shape. The seller wanted out quickly and so they agreed to provide funds for some needed repairs that came up during the inspection period. When I first saw the house it was pretty clear that the walls desperately needed a coat of paint. I had planned to do the painting myself. I've painted my personal residences several times and have pretty much got the basics down. No biggy, it's just paint.

Boy was I wrong. The walls had a few cracks that the previous owner had spackled over (but not yet painted). However, the previous owner spackled GOBS of spackle over the cracks, which all needed to be sanded down. I'm talking inch thick mounds of spackle  in multiple areas/rooms. After spending a whole day trying to scrub the walls clean (they were also very dirty) and then getting nowhere hand sanding piles of spackle, I gave up. This one is better left to the pros. 

So now I have three painting companies coming by the house to give me a painting quote which is an expense I hadn't counted on. Live and learn. 

Congrats on your first buy and hold @Jaclyn B.  ! What part of the city did you choose? I'm partial to north Austin :-)

It's actually in Waco, TX. Very close to Baylor. Waco was a little easier on my pocketbook and fits my targeted tenant class of students. 

Originally posted by @Jaclyn B.:

It's actually in Waco, TX. Very close to Baylor. Waco was a little easier on my pocketbook and fits my targeted tenant class of students. 

 Which side of I-35?  How much do you think it will rent for?  I drive through Waco frequently and am intrigued with the student rental market there. 

If the painters estimates come back too high, look into a power sander. I just re drywalled/spackled/sanded an entire house, so I'm well aware how tedious sanding can be. If I ever decide to take on drywall again, I will be using a sander.

Either that or get a handyman just to sand for you. I would still paint it myself. 

@Jon Klaus  It's on the west side of IH-35. I'm renting by the room so anticipating $1050/mo. 

@Mike D.  I will definitely be looking into a power sander. Trying to do it by hand was just foolish of me. I like the idea of getting the painting company to do the sanding and I do the painting. 

Update on painters: I had two different painting companies scheduled to show up on Saturday to give me a quote and they BOTH flaked! Two other companies that I called and left messages with never called me back. Does no one want my money? So far I have one quote from what seems like a very professional painting company but it's rather high. They line itemed everything so I'm going to call back and remove some of the items I don't really need painted. I'm also going to try and negotiate for a lower price overall. Any tips on negotiating?

What will you negotiate against without another offer in hand?

Is whatever you think you can save in negotiation worth the risk of losing the only outfit that's even bothered to put a workscope together?

Saving 10% on a $100K house is worth the effort and risk. Saving $300 bucks on a $3K paint job? Depends on how much time and aggravation it's worth to you.

I had a LOT of frustration with contractors too. Don't worry, those other contractors will get back to you in two weeks when you've already had your place painted.

People on here say it all the time, find good contractors and treat them well. 

I recommend using the guys who actually showed up. 

Negotiate their higher rates down a bit on future deals, you can use repeat work as a perfectly viable reason. Not to mention you'll have a decent contractor that won't mess up your timelines. $300 = Peace-of-mind. Let us know how it goes!

Have you try using a 6 inch or 12 inch drywall knife to knock some of the spackle off before you sand?  If it is soft enough then it is a possibility; too hard then forget it. Just a thought.

Your first mistake was trying to sand the GOBS of spackle by hand.  Definitely you need a power sander.  Electric palm sander is what I use. But a belt sander might work even better if there's a lot of sanding.  Plan on using 50 or 60 grit sandpaper, even 36 if there is a lot to remove.  Also, what you think is spackle may really be  Fixall. I run into this all the time, where some ignoramus will use Fixall instead of spackle on cracks. Fixall dries much harder than spackle, making it much harder to sand and remove-which is why you really have to use coarser sandpaper if you're dealing with Fixall.  If I were  you, I would buy a sander, then hire a college student to do all the nasty sanding and prep work, so you can do the painting. 

I always use a palm sander with 60 grit. I'm too old to wear my arm out hand sanding. Works really well except for the dust. Wear a good 95 dust mask.

@Jaclyn B.   Congrats on your first purchase! Renting to college students means high turnover which may mean updating/maintaining the property every year when the students move out for the summer. So I applaud you for wanting to do some of the work yourself to reduce your cost.

Hiring a pro for the first go around is probably the best idea. It will be easier for you the next time you need to repaint since you have a good base/starting point. So call back the company that did show up and ask for a discount. Most companies will be willing to give you a small discount to get the job. Just be reasonable and fair. 

If you decide to go the DIY route, you can use a palm sander as some suggested but a belt sander is serious overkill and might ruin your walls. You can also use a small drywall knife, a painter's scrapper ( smaller, harder and stiffer than the drywall knife or even a wood chisel ( smaller, harder, stiffer  and sharper than the scrapper) depending on how thick and hard the amount of spackle you want to remove is. The key is to reduce the spackle to an amount slightly higher than the rest of the wall and then lightly sand to make it blend in. Off course, you'll need to be extra careful using a wood chisel as a scrapper but I've done it before and it works.

Another tip is to do a wet sanding which is easier on your wrist and produces no dust. just buy a good quality sponge. Get it wet, wring out the water and use the sponge back and forth over the wall. It works wonders!!!

Which option did you chose?

Good luck!

I've sanded three entire houses - every wall, cabinet & square inch of woodwork. 60-grit paper & both an orbital & straight sander. After the sandpaper gets worn down from the woodwork, it's just right for going over drywall.

Belt sanders are for floors & doors. Don't even think of trying to use one on a wall.

Couple things -- I agree that belt sanders aren't the proper tool for this, but then, neither is a palm sander... for several reasons.  Yes, it "works" on a very limited basis.

If you plan to do a lot drywall finishing and want to reconsider doing it yourself, check out proper power drywall sanders from Porter Cable or others.     

If it is drywall (and not plaster), another option might be to just rip off the old drywall and put up new sheets -- depending how much you have to do.  Sometimes a fresh start is less work and looks much better.

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